If you haven't got a Will, or it's very old, then the best time to take action and make a Will or review your existing Will is TODAY!
A Will appoints Executors who are tasked with sorting out your debts and funeral expenses, and distributing your estate assets and personal effects in accordance with your wishes as set out in your Will.
Executors are people appointed by a formal Applications for Probate process made to the High Court once you have passed away. The Executors then have High Court authority and responsibility to deal with your estate and carry out the instructions in your Will, selling property, paying debts, funeral expenses and bequests from estate funds, and distributing any remaining assets to beneficiaries. Your Will can include additional provisions such as appointing a testamentary guardian for children under 18, specify funeral or burial arrangements, bequests to charity, or other gifts to individuals such as money, jewelry, Taonga, or other effects.
If you do not make adequate provision for your family members then your Will can be challenged under the Family Protection Act 1955. Any surviving partner or partners may also be able to challenge your Will under the Property (Relationships) Act 1976.
If you die without a will this is called “intestate”. Under statute your surviving spouse or de-facto partner may not necessarily automatically inherit everything. In fact, the survivor may only be entitled to a portion of the estate, with the remainder distributed among other family members in proportions set out in the Administration Act 1969.
There are special signing and witnessing requirements that are critical for a valid Will. It is also important to review your Will regularly - particularly if your personal circumstances, marital or relationship status, may have changed.
Be sure to make sure your affairs are in order by seeing a lawyer to arrange a review of your Will or to make a new one.
To request our Getting Started Will Pack and free guide to Making a Will feel free to email us.